Loss of Net Neutrality and its Effect on Telemedicine

Jun 27, 2017

If telemedicine is the future of enhanced of healthcare services, then net neutrality is the lifeline on which this process functions. Net neutrality basically means equal treatment of all data in the online space. However with the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) move towards overturning its 2015 mandate on net neutrality, many in the healthcare sector are concerned about its negative effect on the delivery of medical services.

Telemedicine: Economical route for better health services

Providing easy access to healthcare facilities even to those in the remotest part of the country has been the goal of several governments throughout the globe. By bringing telecommunications and information technology on the same platform, telemedicine makes it easier for the physicians to overcome the geographical barrier and reach out to their patients. One of the best innovations in the healthcare industry, telemedicine has emerged as one of the most cost-effective means to provide high-quality health services.

Last year a survey conducted by the leading telehealth company American Well, found that 60% of patients would prefer to see a doctor online for managing a chronic condition. Similarly 79% of caretakers prefer using multi-way video telehealth service to take care of their aging relatives. It is not just the patients and caretakers who find telemedicine feasible, but stakeholders too believe that investments telemedicine is sure to provide them a competitive advantage in the upcoming years.

Loss of net neutrality: A major setback for telemedicine

With FCC moving closer to ending the era of net neutrality, the momentum of digital healthcare is sure to slow down. An open and unbiased internet is, in fact, the foundation of online medical treatment. Industry experts believe that health services will surely suffer and turn expensive if the FCC fails to classify ISPs as “common carriers.” The control over the speed and access to online content is sure to hurt beneficiaries in the rural areas, as well as low-income Americans and the colored population.

Today, the two major drivers of change in the healthcare industry are technology and free access to information– repealing of net neutrality will be a major roadblock for digital healthcare. It is essential that the opinions and concerns of all the major stakeholders in the healthcare industry be considered before rolling back the net neutrality policy.

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